Elon Musk is being sued for defamation by the British rescue diver he recently accused of being a pedophile, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on Monday.
Musk called Vernon Unsworth — a diver that criticized Musk’s attempts to help the Thai soccer team trapped in a cave as a “PR stunt” — a “pedo guy” in July. After apologizing for his comment and saying that it was “spoken in anger,” the Tesla chief later called Unsworth a “child rapist” in an email to BuzzFeed News.
Unsworth said in the suit, which was obtained by TheWrap on Monday, that he’s “never engaged in an act of pedophilia” and is “not a child rapist.” He added that Musk aimed to destroy his reputation “by publishing false and heinous accusations of criminality against him to the public.” He’s seeking at least $75,000 in damages and an injunction for Musk to “refrain from making further publication of the False and Defamatory Accusations.”
Musk and a representative did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
In a summer full of controversial moments for Musk, his war of words with Unsworth is one of the most bizarre. SpaceX, Musk’s rocket company, built a submarine to help rescue the soccer team trapped in an underwater cave. The submarine wasn’t used in the rescue mission, and Unsworth criticized it, saying it wasn’t a viable option. Musk “can stick his submarine somewhere where it hurts,” Unsworth said in August. The dig irked Musk, spurring his “pedo guy” comment.
After apologizing, Musk called out Unsworth again in late August, asking why he hadn’t filed a lawsuit if Musk’s claims were untrue. Musk emailed BuzzFeed later that week, saying Unsworth moved to Thailand “for a child bride who was about 12 years old at the time.” Unsworth has a 40-year-old girlfriend, according to his lawsuit.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.